American Legislative Exchange Council Changes State Laws

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A national group in the spotlight for spreading the 'Stand Your Ground' law to Florida and nearly two dozen other states... Is facing a lawsuit.

'Stand your Ground' is being challenged since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. The group behind spreading that law is the 'american Legislative Exchange Council', or ALEC. It changes the way laws are passed in states. But the lawsuit accuses the group of violating the federal tax code by improperly lobbying state legislators.

Many of the most controversial bills being debated here begin at the american legislative exchange council. And the forces behind them often have very deep pockets.

Increasingly, it's not constituents, but groups like the 'american legislative exchange council' feeding lawmakers the ideas behind their bills.

Around three dozen republicans in the florida house and senate count themselves as members of ALEC. Damien filer with 'progress florida' says its time for them to break their ties with a group that's taking national heat over 'Stand Your Ground'.

"This is not just about 'shoot first' laws; this is about everything from the so-called 'parent trigger' law that we saw during the last legislative session, the prison privatization schemes that we've seen crop up. It really covers the spectrum in terms of bad policy for people, and policy that's really aimed at padding the pockets of the corporations that fund this organization."

A handful of those corporations - including Mcdonald's and Wendy's - have pulled their support for ALEC. But, lawmakers may not have the resources to back off. ALEC can help draft complicated bills.

Kelly Weiss and Kerrie Macneil are surprised to hear about outside groups like ALEC. But, they say trust lawmakers to avoid being unfairly influenced.

ALEC is firing back at its critics, dubbing them 'liberal front groups'.
So far, none of alec's members in the florida legislature have announced they plan to sever their ties.

Aside from 'Stand your Ground', the parent trigger and prison privatization, alec also helped inspire legislation to overhaul florida's election law. It cut the early voting period in half and blocked people who change their address on election day from casting a binding ballot.

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